22 August 2011

Mosaic seats for garden chairs

I have had 4 old wrought iron chairs for about 20 years and their wooden seats  had rotted away, rust was showing up under the peeling paint and they looked very sad and shabby. Time to "upcycle" some old furniture so that it will last another 20 years at least.

the chair with new seat but the same old paint job

the seat before grouting

shadows across the mosaic look interesting

My inspirational red cat, surveying the scene

I tried various methods of preparation:
 1)The first 2 chairs i did by hand-  First I scraped and sanded off the old paint. (8 hours of slog)
painted with Hammerite paint. (special paint for metal)

2) Getting cleverer now- I took the last two to a local metal shop and they sandblasted and spray painted or paint dipped the chairs. He also re-welded two weak areas. They are as Good as new but the bill was R600 (ouch)

So at last I have my own 4 chairs completed with new mosaic seats. Since then I have asked a local artist John Ross, to make a beautiful wrought iron chair for display at the October Leisure Isle craft Fair, commissioned CXsteel to make a chair too, and adopted 4 chairs at the pottery house that need mosaic seats. All of a sudden I have 10 mosaic chair examples- of which 5 are already completed.

there are three more chairs like this that will also get mosaic seats, using green leaf inserts, birds, angels etc

the olive thrush likes it

I used 9mm fibre cement board, prepared with bonding liquid before mosaicing.  I use what ever I can find in the mosaic insert boxes at the pottery house, and combine them with reject tiles from the reject pile in the corner of the garden. I like to show what is possible with what is immediately available, often selecting some forgotten or unappreciated experimental handmade tiles at the bottom of the pile.

After the mosaic and grouting is all dry and complete, the reverse side of the Nutec/Fibre Cement board should be painted with a waterproof paint.  The chair will be able to handle sun, rain and storms.

I learned that 2nd hand chairs are the best and most affordable, and if you scrounge around you could find free cast iron chairs that just need some love. If you insist on a certain design, a local, artistic metalworker can make it for you, but this will cost a lot more.
I will add photos of the other completed mosaic seats when I do a follow up post... Have fun mosaicing.


  1. Anonymous8:21 AM

    I just love these ideas! Its such a satisfying feeling to see something shabby suddenly re-awakened with just a little imagination and patience. Great work! Corinne

  2. I want to take this opportunity to say that I really love this blog. It has been a good resource of information for me in my research.
    Metal mosaic

  3. Happy to see your blog as it is just what I’ve looking for. I am looking forward to another great article from you.

    Tumbled Crema Marfil

  4. Cyndie Falatovich11:48 AM

    I NEED ADVISE! I have an old iron table and chairs and have considered doing a mosaic on them. I've never done this before soooo I need to base the table top and seats with board? Is this ablsolutely necessary? I'm afrid to spend alot of money on them because I may do a lousey job. What may be the most economical base? falato@intrstar.net

  5. well, it also expensive if the mosaic falls apart isn't it? I would definitely advise you to use fibre cement board, not a timber or metal substrate.

  6. Anonymous8:25 PM

    where can we get the leaf tiles? there is no place in my town, perhaps online?

    1. Hi there Anonymous,
      We do not have an online shop, but you can send an order via email from my orders page on www.ceramicsandmosaics.co.za or send an email to: marylounewdigate@gmail.com. we will send you a postage estimate, payment received direct into our account- order posted- arrives in about 10 days if USA/Australia (I am assuming you are not writing from South Africa). We do have a minimum value for 'overseas' orders


Comments are very important, and valued. PLEASE send them to me.
But I get so many of those fake spammy comments- - and those comments go to the spam bin- But if you have a genuine comment, please persevere, and please ask questions- I will answer you as soon as I can. Thanks so much